Out of the 500 million employed in India, around 300 million of them are employed as blue-collared and gig workers as per NSDC.
This implies approximately 60% of the labour comprises this segment of the workforce. According to a report by ASSOCHAM the blue collared gig economy is expected to grow to $455 billion by 2024 at a compounded annual growth rate of 17%.
The global pandemic has contributed to an exponential rise in their employment which has created a huge demand in sectors like home maintenance services, food, retail, and grocery deliveries, home salon, and appliances repair work. Therefore, it is the dire need of the hour to empower and upskill them to realize the true potential of this enormous manpower.
The blue force, working lacks the interpersonal and communication skills demanded by the current job metrics. They have neither been given any soft skills training nor have had access to formal education. There are no active campaigns targeted to create awareness for the job opportunities available in this segment and how they can harness them.
The independent contractors who secure themselves a job after taking the undue hassle, often have insufficient people skills. They have the technical expertise pertaining to the specific service but don’t have the know-how in terms of customer handling and satisfaction. This reduces the customer retention ratio of the service provider. The empowerment of vendors is a huge untapped resource where companies can invest for their mutual growth and development.
The pandemic has brought digitization as a blessing in disguise, by accelerating its adoption rate across the country in a plethora of industries. There is a market disruption caused by the new-generation start-ups coming up with tech-savvy solutions to educate and enhance the skills of blue-collar workers. As per a report by Linkedin, the retention rate of a message through video is better than writing. They are enabling them through computer-based training, virtual masterclass, and access to tutorial videos to nurture soft skills.
The e-based learning saves considerable time, increases accessibility, and improves convenience for the workers who have no spare time for skilling activities. Another key advantage of access to unlimited video content is it can reach workers from the remotest of areas, train them to deliver superior services in their local areas, and help them earn a respectable livelihood. The penetration of smartphones and internet will amplify their learnings and also facilitate quick payments digitally This setup enormously helps both the hiring managers who are not restricted to hiring in the specific job locations and the workers will not have to necessarily migrate to upgrade their earnings
The end-to-end digital tools equip the vendor to better manage their orders, consistency in service delivery, and create a loyal base of customers. The blue-collar workers do not have to be in physical proximity to the employer to acquire the requisite skills. This also arms them to shatter the general perception that they are technologically backward. In this way, the employers are breaking both geographical barriers and social bias.
Digitization and the exponential rise of the skilled workforce population can combinedly contribute to fulfilling the dream of Digital India. The economy will open doors with a plethora of opportunities to the tech-empowered blue force who will have the right knowledge, awareness, and capacity to contribute to their highest potential. This will also bring a lot of flexibility to workers who can choose a role in terms of their skill and availability and to the job providers in hiring the right talent.
The swift adoption of technology will cater to the shifting demands, reduce the gap among the workforce and lead to a full-fledged automated process of hiring and service delivery. It is a win-win scenario for both the job provider and the job-seeker in terms of cost, time, and experience.
Moving forward, the time is ripe for the organizations to untap the hidden gem lying in the form of this gigantic manpower. Simultaneously, they should be mindful that blue-collared staff will require time and relentless effort to grasp the technological trends and interpersonal skills.
As there is considerable heterogeneity in this workforce, they will have to invest in providing them with customized tools, expertise and create a safe space by promoting inclusivity in the work culture.
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